# Infinite past... with a beginning?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Speakpigeon, Mar 30, 2019.

1. ### James RJust this guy, you know?Staff Member

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37,081
I thought your position was that everything in the universe is a mathematical function.

What makes thoughts (and theism) special?

I think you've lost track of what we were talking about again. I don't think I'll bother backtracking to fill you in this time.

I don't understand what you mean when you say x "is a function of" y. You'll have to explain if you want me to respond to this.

3. ### James RJust this guy, you know?Staff Member

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37,081
I already explained about maps and territories. I don't see any reason to repeat myself. If you didn't understand, go back and read my previous posts again. I'm happy to answer specific questions but I have no intention of wasting time on "What was that all about, again?"

We do not - and might not ever - understand everything about the universe. And yes, we can only approximately guess. That's what mathematical scientific theories are: best-guess approximations.

Tegmark has a list of 32 identifiable constants. Check it out!

This is a rhetorical flourish on your part, I take it.

Sure, if you're a theist.

*shrug*

This is your first mention of "natural mathematical relative values". What are they? Can you give me an example or two?

Did you really miss the whole map/territory thing that I explained to you several times? Do you really have no idea what I was telling you there? If that's the case, I have to ask myself whether it's actually worth trying to engage with you at all.

Ooh. Lots of jargon there.

What is a "real universal value"? (Examples?)
What is a symbolic representation of a "real universal value"? (Examples?)
What is a "general universal mathematical potential"?
What is it "inherent" in?
What is an "essence of spacetime"?

If you want to start from scratch, you need a specific definition of "spacetime". The most rigorous definitions tend to be mathematical ones.

The map/territory distinction is still there, though: our mathematical models of spacetime are not the same thing as the spacetime we walk around in.

5. ### SarkusHippomonstrosesquippedalo phobeValued Senior Member

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What I asked wasn’t a “yes/no” question, but rather I was asking which of the options I presented fits your view, if indeed either of them do.
If the universe is mathematics, then surely everything within it is mathematics as well? That includes thoughts and, dare I say it, theism. You can no simply exclude from your “the universe is mathematics” that which you dislike. Either the universe is, or is not, mathematics. If it is then everything is.
Perhaps because the notion doesn’t add anything meaningful to what they’re doing. What do we mean by “mathematical in essence”? Is a person running to be considered as “motion in essence”? Is the motion guiding what their legs do, or are the relative positions of the legs considered “motion”? Ultimately, is considering the universe mathematical as you do actually helpful, meaningful, or going to improve our understanding in any way?

7. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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18,578
Where is the distinction? If something describes the universe, it describes the values and functions of the universe.
You are saying that descriptions can only ever approximate. I disagree. Mathematics is (can be) an exact science.
I understand what you are saying but as I understand Tegmark, he is saying that a value is the mathematical information (potential) contained in the physical pattern and as such must obey mathematical rules. I believe Tegmark does not just advocate number values, but argues for mathematical patterns which make up physical objects.
Yes, photons have a mathematical value and must obey mathematical rules (equations). Physical properties have to behave in accordance with their mathematical values.
Photons are mathematical paterns. You cannot create a valueless photon. A quanta is a physical object wich can only behave in accordance with its inherent mathematical value (potential). That how we do science, no?
Not exactly, it is the human symbolic language used to translate mathematical values and functions. I believe a more correct term is mathematical information which determines universal functional interactions. Human have learned a language that is able to translate these mathematical function with our symbolic language.
I promise to reread it and give it serious consideration. Thank you for posting it.
I understand, physical objects with specific (relative) properties and values, which determine their behaviors. But if these objects are physical, how can they we wave functions without losing their physical properties. It is Bohm who proposed that all these sub-atomic particles remain physical objects at all times and rather than travelling as a wave function, they are carried by the Universal Pilot Wave and the "Guiding equation".
If that is true, would that not be beautiful? Occam would be happy. How many letters of the alphabet did Shakespeare use to write his sonnnets?
To each other. Numbers to describe values are human symbols and an atom does not know it has a value. But it possess a value relative to all other values, regardless of the symbolic notation used by the observer to describe the value.
How do you know that he would object to the use of that term?
What exactly is a processor? It's a network no. The universe is a network. How is information processed by the universe?
Right, but we would still be able to use our maths to explain universal values and functions, no?
I agree. It's Tegmark who claims that if the universe is purely mathematical , science should be able to unlock all the mysteries. I believe that where he agrees with Bohm on the concept of a universal "wholeness".
Thank you for being open to further examination of the idea. I like that objectivity.
I understand, but I am happy that you found it interesting and well presented.

Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
8. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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18,578
The order of the organisms pattern, which gives it a survival advantage.
A gray mouse on a gray surface has a greater survival advantage over a white mouse on a grey surface. It is a minor value distinction but if it is effective, natural selection will select for the gray mouse.
OK example; walking (running) is a controlled forward falling motion. The mathematics of the gravitational forces are subconsciously controlled by the afferent neural functions which control the muscles which produce the physical runnig action and also maintain balance.
Yep, I believe it is defined as self-referencing mathematical systems?
The sun? Come to think of it even a star is a self-ordering object, until they go nova. That results in a disordered system, AKA chaos.
I believe one of the terms used to describe fundamental universal actions is symmetry breaking ?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symmetry_breaking
Theism is not a mathematical part of the universe
Not as big a claim as Theism.

9. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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18,578
Because there is no God. The universe is not a self-aware consciousness which has the ability for imagining impossible events, it is a self-referential mathematical quasi-consciousness, which forms metaphysical deterministic implicates of possible future probabilities (Bohm)

This is a very interesting question and I am not sure if I can begin to answer this, without invoking Stuart Hameroff
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Hameroff
who, along with Roger Penrose have hypothesized ORCH OR in the function of brain microtubules, the trillions of information nano-processors in our neural networks,
and Anil Seth who defines consciousness from his perspective as
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anil_Seth

Tegmark claims that consciousness is a transcendent result of neural activity. Something like "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" where thinking is information processing , but thoughts are metaphysical patterns.
This is actually a very interesting lecture by Tegmark. Well worth spending a few minutes on.

No, we just haven't touched on that subject yet.
This may be related to logical relationship between necessity and sufficiency.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necessity_and_sufficiency

OK,
What does "x is function of y" mean?
http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/frontiers/web/chapter_3/9121.html

Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
10. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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18,578
OK
Thought processes are best guesses, labaratory experiment s can imitate some natural processes with very high accuracy.
I see no compelling reason to assume we can never know how the universe works. Tegmark thinks we can if the universe is indeed a mathematical construct.
I told you that awhile ago. I asked you if thought that the universe had no universal constants. Note the question mark.[/quote] This is a rhetorical flourish on your part, I take it.[/quote] Yes, more or less tongue-in-cheek questions.....

I agree.
I agree. [/quote]This is your first mention of "natural mathematical relative values". What are they? Can you give me an example or two?[/quote] It is just what I have been talking about . All I did was change the word universal with natural.
As to my use of "relative values", I believe that it is a more accurate identification than the use of the terms "numbers" which is misleading in that the term numbers can be interpreted as the human numerical symbols which identify universal relative values. The universe does not deal in symbolisms, humans do.
Ever seen the new 3D printers? They make 3D (maps of) functional stuff. Forget the pencil and paper, that's old, just like the cave paintings.
Oh good, I did explain all of that before, with examples. No sense in repeating.
Halleluja!
IMO, your use of models is outdated. Our new 3D printers can actually print out functional stuff, albeit to human specifications. We can simulate cosmic conditions with great accuracy.

In the Great Math Mystery" one scientist says; "if we ask the universe a question and we ask it nicely (with the correct mathematics) the universe will give us a correct answer". The universe responds to mathematical questions if they are posed in proper context.

In his lecture "Chance, Necessity, and the Origins of Life" at Carnegie institute for science, Robert Hazen cites Luis Allamendola at NASA for reproducing conditions found in cosmic clouds
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/research/2006/allamandola.html
This is an excellent lecture on mineral evolution and the possible origind for life.( START @ 25:00 to avoid lengthy introduction.)

Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
11. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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18,578
OK, "order" is a mathematical pattern. Mathematical order is basically a redundancy.
Human thoughts are metaphysical objects and not necessarily mathematical at all.
I can think that 2 = 3. The universe cannot, nor can a computer. It's not an orderly process.
See the Tegmark video on "Consciousness" is a Mathematical Pattern", but thoughts may be random. A thought is a transcendent object according to Tegmark
I believe Tegmark means that spacetime itself is a mathematical object and therefore is mathematical in it's very essence.
No, motion is mathematical in essence.
I would say it is a self-referential sensory feedback of mathematical information (an afferent/efferent neural function). I've heard it said that walking is a "controlled forward falling process".
Tegmark seems to think so and applying Occam's razor, that would seem to be the "solution with the fewest assumptions". Does current cosmological science employ more assumptions than a universe based on pure mathematical values and functions? Are we using anything other than mathematics in our current theoretical science before we conduct physical testing of those mathematics?
If not, then why resist the notion that the universe is mathematical in essence? That seems to me a contradiction in terms.

Phewwww......you guys are making me think!.........

Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
12. ### James RJust this guy, you know?Staff Member

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37,081
Write4U:

The distinction, as I keep saying, is that a description is not the thing it describes. Here's a famous painting by Rene Magritte that makes the same point:

The caption translates as "This is not a pipe." And that's right. You're not looking at a pipe.

See?

I'm saying that descriptions are not the thing described. Specifically, mathematical descriptions of electrons or universes are not electrons or universes.

We've already been through this. He is saying that the physical things have only mathematical properties. In other words, he's saying that, somehow, mathematical properties can make "stuff" that we can touch. But how could they? He doesn't say.

No!

The description of a photon might be a mathematical pattern, but we can actually see the photon itself. It can be a light in the dark, or a spot on a screen.

They can't be wave functions. A wave function is a mathematical construct that we use to describe physical objects. I say it's a mistake to think that the wavefunction is the object it is describing. It's better to think about the wavefunction as telling us what we know about the object.

If Tegmark can explain how a number or a mathematical function can create something (anything!) physical, then I'll start taking him more seriously.

I think that we shouldn't mistake this for a debate about science, though. This is, at its heart, a philosophical debate.

I think that we'd have a very useful description of the universe if it turns out we can derive everything that goes on in the universe from 32 numbers and a few fundamental equations. That wouldn't change my mind about those numbers and equations creating the universe, however.

I don't know, but he is an MIT physicist. My assumption would be that he would use the word "potential" in the sense that other professional physicists use that word. But to be sure, we'd need to ask him - or look for examples of publications (including videos or whatever) in which he uses that word.

I'm generally open to examining ideas.

13. ### James RJust this guy, you know?Staff Member

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37,081
You wrote "changes in the environment are a result of mathematical functions in the ecosystem, and always tend toward balance and symmetry."

So I asked you what "balance" and "symmetry" means for an ecosystem - i.e. what those terms mean to you in this context.

Am I to take it that you don't really have anything particular in mind when you refer to the "balance" of an ecosystem, or to it's "symmetry", then? Are those just fancy words you're throwing in because they sound impressive in your statement about "mathematical functions"? Have you actually thought about what you're saying?

How could it not be, if you adopt Tegmark's view? His view says everything is mathematics, and that necessarily includes all beliefs held by human beings (who are all also nothing but mathematics in his opinion).

You're getting distracted onto your other obsession - microtubules. Can we stick with discussing the problems with Tegmark, for now?

So for every incremental increase in movement, time increases by certain increments? Is that what you're saying? Or, put more succinctly, movement is the cause of time?

How could movement create time? Isn't movement something we observe to happen as time progresses? Isn't time a part of the "background" against which movements occur?

I agree with you. On the other hand, I see no compelling reason to assume that we will eventually know everything about how the universe works.

I think that our mathematical models of the universe involve some universal constants, with a few caveats (there's no way to tell if the "constants" are really universal, or even if they are "constant" everywhere for all time).

For a 3D printer to make anything, you need to provide it with more than just mathematics. You need to give it some physical material to build with.

A simulation is a model.

Yes. That's very convenient for us. The question is: why does it do that? I don't like Tegmark's answer very much, that's all.

14. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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18,578
I agree, what you are showing is a 2D printed picture of a real pipe. But today we can print out a real 3D functional pipes. We can now create some maps that are exact copies of the real thing (still very limited, but progressing very fast). The word print or map is no longer a picture drawn by a pencil or even a photograph. We are able to produce real copies of some real objects.
Speaking of electrons in relation to "light"(photons).
Is this saying that light is not matter but has a mathematical value?

I've posted this elsewhere, but it may be pertinent to this subject also as it deals with the behavior of photons.

How about a real time composite picture of photons in flight, which do not present a wave function at all.

I'd like to see the double slit experiment photographed with this technology and determine if the photon is a wave function or an object at all times. If anyone has access to MIT, this might be an experiment of general interest to the scientific community. Tegmark????
To be exact Tegmark says that stuff is made up from mathematical patterns. What exactly is a quantum? Is it a physical object or a "value"?
Are quantum fields not a collection of physical objects, such as the Higgs boson? If not, then how do we describe a quantum other than as a mathematical value? He poses a very interesting observation about the phenomenon called "wetness". He reminds us that an H2O molecule is not wet, and trhat wetness is a specific pattern of H2O molecules, whereas a different pattern of H2O molecules is not wet or fluid but a solid, and another pattern of H2O molecules is also not wet and gaseous. The same molecules assuming a transcendent state based on their pattern distribution, a mathematical function.
I don't think Tegmark is proposing that mathematics create the universe. I believe he proposes that the universe is a collection of mathematical values and functions, which we have succesfully symbolized. i.e. the universe, regardless of how it was created is mathematical in essence due to its inherent geometrical and elementary mathematical properties. Inherent universal potentials?
I believe that I am using the term correctly as defined in every dictionary. Are those definitions incorrect?
I am sure that's all Tegmark can expect until we can examine nature at extremely small (Planck?) scales and actually observe how it works.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_constant

15. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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OK, let me try.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asymmetry
Yes, I wanted to cite an example of a dynamic function, such as symmetry breaking, which creates a dynamic imbalance?
Yes, see above. btw. The spiral Fibonacci sequence was selected by natural selection because it offers the most mathematically efficient and balanced linear growth function, especially in the vertical growth function of plants and trees, which require sun-light for energy.
I disagree, Tegmark also proposes that certain mathematical patterns yield transcendent phenomona.
I am actually researching if that transcendence is indicated by the suffix "xxxxxx-ness".
Wetness?
Sure, I have a seperate thread on "microtubules" in "alternative theories" .
Indirectly, I see time as an emergent measurement of duration of existence or change.
I believe this is an important philosophical observation
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/time-experience/#WhatPercTime
Only if you consider time as a pre-existent by-product of the existence of space. But spacetime cannot be used as a measurement of say "lunch-time" is 30 minutes, which is not a spatial measurement and the temporal measurement of space.
Space does not exist or move in time, the "unfolding" of space creates an associated time-frame as a mathematical measurement of duration. Same as metrics are measurements of spatial properties, time is a measurement of existence or change.
Time cannot exist independent of anything else, it is always connected to the "start", "chronology", and "finish" of an event or series of events.
Time itself has no measurable properties. IMO, it is one of Tegmark's emergent transcendent measurements, strictly relative to the duration of what is being measured. The Universe does not care about time, it does not need to remember when it started or how old it is. Humans do and that's why we invented time as a simultaneous by-product of duration in the evolution of spatial dimensions.
Tegmark does. Is that really so controversial?
Is Einstein's E = Mc^2 not a conversion from pure energy into matter? What exactly does that mean? Energy is not matter? We know "c" is not matter, it's a measurement, no?
How could they not be? That is like saying the Universe is not the Universe in its entirety as a Universe. It was created and expanded from a single source with specific relative values and patterns which interact mathematically. Any non-trivial differences are already explained by relativity.
Why should a certain wavelength produce a different result in different parts of a contiguous universe? That would create chaos, no?
Yes you have to feed it with dense atomic patterns of specific values.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation

Louis Allamendola at NASA simulates conditions in cosmic clouds to observe the effects of radiation in astrochemistry. I assume this requires an exact copy of the conditions, but at a very small scale. Is it necessary to copy an entire cosmic dust cloud the size of a galaxy?
I don't like all of Tegmark's answers either. I certainly do not worship him.
I do like the simplicity of his concept, which appears to be testable by posing mathematical questions about unknown values and functions to the universe and receiving an answer (result) if the mathematics are correctly used.
I do believe all those cosmologist who declare they get a feeling that they are discovering existing universal mathematical properties rather than imposing mathematical properties. Why would they lie? Most science lies in discovery of pre-existing natural conditions and constants, no?

Last edited: Feb 20, 2020
16. ### Dennis TateValued Senior Member

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1,154

This question is far, far, far, far beyond my own little IQ or Security Clearance Level so I will leave you with a quotation:

17. ### James RJust this guy, you know?Staff Member

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37,081
Write4U:

Just a couple of scientific points here...
My own view is that $E=mc^2$ just associates a certain energy value (i.e. a number) with a certain amount of physical substance. Energy is just a number, essentially. You can't convert stuff into a number, or vice versa. Energy is not a substance.

It is convenient to assume that the physical constants of nature are the same in different parts of the universe, but that is not proven. Nor is it proven that the constants have the same values now that they had in the past. A number of groups are making observations to see whether, in distant (and therefore older) parts of the universe, any of the constants were different than what we measure here and now. it could be, for example, that the "constants" actually vary slowly, or that the universe has "pockets" where the values of the constants are different than the ones we see nearby. There's no good evidence for any variation, so far, but it's an open question.